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Obama to press China on steel at G20, Lew says

WASHINGTON, USA – US President Barack Obama will call for broader fiscal stimulus from other economies and press Beijing to limit steel capacity during his final G20 summit this weekend, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Wednesday, August 31.

In an address in Washington prior to his departure for the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China, Lew also said policy makers should respond to the populist discontent among voters in the United States and Europe, saying they should heed "the message of anxious and angry citizens who feel left behind."

"The president will call on his counterparts to follow through on the G20's commitment to use all policy tools – including fiscal policy – to achieve robust and inclusive growth," Lew said at the Brookings Institution.

"He will underscore the importance of investing in jobs and supporting middle-class incomes," Lew said.

Obama will also ask China for steel industry reforms, highlighting an issue that has threatened steel producers around the world. (READ: EU to use 'all defenses' against China steel exports – Juncker)

"Excess capacity distorts markets and the environment, harms our workers, and runs counter to our efforts to achieve strong, sustainable, and balanced growth," he said. (READ: US' Lew raps China on excess steel production)

Heads of state and finance chiefs from the world's top powers will gather for the G20 summit in Hangzhou amid sluggish global economic growth and uncertainty.

Lew hailed the G20 forum as a means for achieving consensus, saying global policy makers had ultimately come around to US positions gainst an austerity response to slow growth and against competitive currency devaluations.

Analysts say the G20 summit, on September 4-5, is unlikely to produce breakthroughs, with officials not facing the pressure to act that a crisis can create.

The summit also arrives with Obama's trade agenda in grave doubt as he enters the final 5 months of his presidency. Two landmark international free tree agreements with Asia and Europe – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – remain in limbo. (READ: 5 key facts on a planned US-EU trade pact)

Both presidential nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, have said they oppose the agreements and Congress appears unlikely to ratify the completed TPP agreement, imperiling a long Obama effort at freer trade with 11 other Pacific Rim countries. – Rappler.com